New learning in time of crisis

This month’s report feels like a different beast from the report I wrote in April - so much has happened and yet so little writes Caroline Green of Wetherby U3a.

Monday, 11th May 2020, 4:16 pm

This month’s report feels like a different beast from the report I wrote in April - so much has happened and yet so little writes Caroline Green of Wetherby U3a.

Wetherby U3A continues with its various groups wherever possible using the well-established Newsletter to keep everyone up to date, either by email or post.

The sense of community is still alive and well, and yet it’s had to take on a very different face to the usual social interaction of weekly or fortnightly group meetings. Members are adjusting and learning new skills.

Zoom, WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Duo, facetime are just a few of the online methods of communication members have managed to put to good use with their various groups.

Photography, psychology, Scrabble, language and Bridge have all managed to find a way to keep in touch with each other and play and learn either individually or in a group session. Other Groups are having an online get together chat on Zoom, and these new skills have enabled members to keep in touch with their families who may live only down the road or may be resident in another country completely.

The ability of older people to learn new IT skills has really been put to the test and for many its been an absolute godsend.

In our family my husband does online Maths help sessions with three of our grandchildren every day and I meet up online with each of our own children’s families for online kids cooking sessions every week.

We have a family Zoom meeting once a week and it’s great to hear everyone chatting and laughing and to be able to see them, in their own homes every week.

It’s almost like popping in for a quick chat and it’s been so enjoyable, we will continue for the foreseeable future.

Our daughter and family live in France and we have no idea when we might see them again, so this online weekly family chat has brought us all much closer together.

Their children pop in and out of the conversations and it leads to a relaxed atmosphere for all concerned.

We still use the telephone and we still exchange letters and cards by post. We’ve spoken to friends and family using the same skills and it’s made such a difference to all concerned that you could see for yourself how people are.

On VE Day, together with our neighbours, we spent many happy hours outside in the sunshine, enjoying our own picnics, close to our own houses, chatting with those who live close by, making memories that maybe we might not have done had we all gone to a bigger event.

We are able to go outside and take exercise, a cycle ride, a walk, a run and say hello, from a distance, to people we know and people we don’t know, perhaps lingering for a little longer than we would normally while still respecting our social distance.

The community has somehow grown together in the way we have always wanted from a community but somehow never quite managed to achieve in ‘normal’ times because we were so busy doing other things.

These new IT skills have enabled us to download new apps to our phones to find out more about the birdsong we are hearing.

Suddenly, birds seem to be singing more loudly than ever before. Previously they were drowned out by the sound of road traffic, air traffic, people, and general workplace noises.

This time of isolation, instead of being a trial and something we must tolerate, has become a time of opportunity to find out about ourselves, our community, our climate and our environment.

We can look back and share through photographs, we can live in this moment with no particular plan for the future, and treasure what we have and what we hold dear, all with these new skills of ours.